(Proverbs 20:6 KJV) Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?
(Proverbs 20:6 NASB) Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, But who can find a trustworthy man?
When I read this verse in the NASB I asked myself, “What is “loyalty” (2617a)?” When I started digging a little I got confused because the KJV uses “goodness.” The NASB is making some assumptions here. It is the only translation I consulted that used “loyalty.” The others had some reference to the real meaning of the word. The Hebrew word is [chesed] which is the OT equivalent of the Greek [agape]. My favorite translation for it is “lovingkindness.”
I can only assume the NASB looked at the context, found the word “trustworthy” (529) and used “loyalty.” What I am getting out of this today is a growing understanding of the meaning of the Hebrew chesed. I am asking myself again, “What is loyalty?”
“Loyalty” or “lovingkindness” is a word that is multifaceted. Translating it “love” is too confusing and “kindness” is too shallow. Included is the idea of loyalty or faithfulness. Am I a loyal person? Do I support those who need support or do I undermine them? Do I express lovingkindness? I think of my wife and children. Those are easy. What about my mother in law who is in an advancing stage of dementia? How often do I visit? How many times do I answer the same questions?
At what point is loyalty trumped by other demands? Recently a student brought a form to my room and said, “Sign this.” It was a form I had been refusing to sign for at least a year because it proclaimed that I had done something I knew I had not done. We were told if everyone signed it, we got some federal funding for a program. Should I commit fraud to guarantee funding? This time the form had the word “required” added where it said “signature.” I refused again. My loyalty stops at committing fraud. Will it cost me my job? I doubt it. Will it mark me as not being a “team player?” Probably. It makes me wonder how many other times I have compromised.
So? What team are you a player on? Bad English but a good question. One of the reasons our country has been stable is that military personal and people in political office swear to uphold and protect the Constitution, not the president. I understand that one of the things that Adolf Hitler did was change the oath to loyalty to him. One of the reason that our churches and families are falling apart is we are confused about our loyalty. We owe our loyalty to God. From that commitment all of our other loyalties fall into line. Will it cost us? Yes, but what is the price if we don’t?